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Bonn: Indigenous peoples’ knowledge and wisdom valuable to climate adaptation, Peruvian activists say

7 November 2017 – Peruvian indigenous activists at the United Nations Climate Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany, made a strong call Tuesday for indigenous peoples to be part of the solution to tackling climate change, emphasizing their traditional wisdom and practical knowledge about adaptation methods.

“We don’t want to speak only about climate change but about climate catastrophe […] What can we do? There are alternatives, especially from the indigenous peoples, especially from the wisdom of indigenous women,” said Roberto Espinoza, Advisor for the Interethnic Association for the development of the Peruvian Rainforest (Asociation Interetnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana – AIDESEP), at a press conference.

Rosalia Yampis, Director of the Women’s Program in AIDESEP, also highlighted the “very important role” indigenous women can have in climate adaptation.

“Women have this ancestral knowledge about seeds and what we have to sow,” she told the press conference. She added that indigenous peoples are providing input to Peru’s national contribution to the Paris Agreement in protecting the watershed.

There are about 13 million indigenous peoples in Peru. As a national indigenous rights organization, AIDESEP works to improve the health, education and housing of these peoples. It is a member organization of the Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA).

We are sowing water – even if it sounds bizarre – with some special plants indigenous people know that can enhance the water cycle undergroundRoberto Espinoza

According to AIDESEP, “it is amply demonstrated that indigenous territories are fundamental for the conservation of forests.” In them, generally, “deforestation is minimal, even less than in some protected natural areas. Therefore, today, one of the main strategies to counteract the loss and degradation of forests in the Peruvian Amazon is to ensure the safety and sustainable management of these territories,” explains the organization on its website.

“There are alternatives with the wisdom and knowledge of our peoples. We, as indigenous peoples, are working on these alternatives,” said Janio Sangama, from the region of San Martin, which is mostly located in the upper part of the Peruvian Amazon rainforest.
“When we speak about sustainable development, we are looking after the management of our resources in a more orderly way. We worry about deforestation,” he added. “In San Martin, we had a big flood. We have a proposal called ‘hand in hand with Government’ to confront these natural catastrophes.”

He said that the indigenous peoples have begun sustainable production or orderly production with technologies from communities. “We have been managing alternative crops in our territories. We are not destroying our forest,” he underscored.

Roberto Espinoza said that “water is being reduced because of deforestation. So we are sowing water – even if it sounds bizarre – with some special plants indigenous people know that can enhance the water cycle underground,” he added.

Regarding reforestation, Jammek Manikusi, a member of AIDESEP, said indigenous people are concerned about the use of exotic plants, like pine and eucalyptus. “These plants have impacts on the soil. We want a natural reforestation with natural wisdom of the peoples, with more proper methodologies, more adapted to natural regeneration of soils in the Amazon.”

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58043

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Protect environment from wars and conflicts, UN urges on International Day

6 November 2017 – Commemorating the international day for lessening the impact of armed conflicts and wars on the environment, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres underscored the need to recognize that environment is also a victim of fighting.

“Whether caused by fighting or a breakdown in Government control, the damage to the environment has devastating consequences for people’s health and well-being […] it is not a new problem, but is one that can last for decades,” said Mr. Guterres in a message on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

“Areas of Europe are still affected by heavy-metal contamination from munitions used during the First World War.”

In his message, the Secretary-General also highlighted the importance of a healthy environment for people to rebuild their lives once fighting stops, noting that the shared management of natural resources can also provide avenues to maintain or improve relations.

Given the importance of the environment and natural resources for sustainable development, the UN chief called for steps to reduce the collateral damage from conflicts and protect them.

“The UN is committed to protecting the environment as an essential pillar of peace, security and sustainable development,” he stressed.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), conflicts over natural resources are among the greatest challenges confronting today’s world, with serious threats to human security.

Furthermore, at least 40 per cent of all internal armed conflicts over the past 65 years have had an important natural resource dimension. Since 1989, more than 35 major armed conflicts have been financed by revenues from conflict resources, and there are fears that in the coming years, extreme climate stresses could double the risk of violent conflict.

However, despite these risks, there are also “significant opportunities” linking the environment and peacebuilding, added UNEP.

“Let us not forget the power of environmental cooperation to drive peace and prosperity,” said UNEP Executive Director Erik Solheim.

Also today, joining forces with the Environmental Law Institute, the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University, and the University of California at Irvine, UNEP opened the enrolment at the online course, Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace, which aims to build a community of 10,000 practitioners that can make natural resources a reason for global cooperation.

The course covers a range of natural resources, from extractives to land and water, as well as a range of tools and approaches from conflict and gender sensitivity to assessments, meditation and spatial planning.

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58038

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Bonn: UN climate conference aims for greater ambition as 2017 set to be among top three hottest years

6 November 2017 – The United Nations Climate Conference opened on Monday in Bonn, Germany, with the aim of a greater ambition for climate action, as the world body’s weather agency issued a stark warning that 2017 is set to be among the three hottest years on record.

The Bonn Conference of the State Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNTCC), informally known as COP 23 and which runs until 17 November, is chaired by Fiji, an island State particularly affected by the impacts of our warming climate.

“The need for urgency is obvious. Our world is in distress from the extreme weather events caused by climate change – destructive hurricanes, fires, floods, droughts, melting ice, and changes to agriculture that threaten our food security”, said COP 23 President and Prime Minister of Fiji Frank Bainimarama, at the opening of the conference.

“Our job as leaders is to respond to that suffering with all means available to us. [We] must not fail our people. That means using the next two weeks and the year ahead to do everything we can to make the Paris Agreement work and to advance ambition and support for climate action before 2020.”

The Paris Agreement, which was adopted by the 196 Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2015 in the French capital after which it is named, calls on countries to combat climate change by limiting the rise of global temperature below 2 degrees Celsius and strive not to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius.

A year ago, the Marrakech Climate Conference concluded with the Marrakech Action Proclamation, for our climate and sustainable development, in which the UNFCCC States Parties affirmed their “commitment” to the “full implementation” of the Paris Agreement. Today, 169 Parties have ratified the Agreement.

UN weather agency warns 2017 to be among hottest years ever

As this year’s Conference got under way, the UN World Meteorological Organization (WMO), released its provisional statement on the State of the Climate. “It is very likely that 2017 will be one of the three hottest years on record, with many high-impact events including catastrophic hurricanes and floods, debilitating heatwaves and drought,” said the agency.

For his part, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas told delegates in Bonn that the past three years have all been in the top three years in terms of temperature records. “This is part of a long term warming trend,” pointing to recent “extraordinary weather,” including temperatures topping 50 degrees Celsius in Asia, record-breaking hurricanes in rapid succession in the Caribbean and Atlantic reaching as far as Ireland, devastating monsoon flooding affecting many millions of people and a relentless drought in East Africa.

“Wherever we live, we are all vulnerable and need to act,” Mr. Bainimarama told delegates, explaining that Fiji is helping build a Grand Coalition for decisive, coordinated action by governments at every level, by civil society, the private sector and all citizens on earth.

“That’s why we installed an ocean-going Fijian ‘drua’ canoe in the entrance here to remind everyone of the need to fill its sail with collective determination to make COP23 a success and confront the biggest challenge humanity has faced,” he said.

Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, reminded the participants that: “We have some very specific goals we must achieve while we are here in Bonn. We expect these negotiations to be the next essential step that ensures that the Paris Agreement’s structure is completed, its impacts are strengthened, and its goals achieved. We also need to move forward to fulfil the commitments that are due in 2020. In this regard, finance and mitigation pledges are essential.”

The Bonn Conference will feature a series of meetings and events, including the high-level segment, on 15 November and 16 November, attended by Heads of State and Government, Ministers, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

Mr. Guterres has invited leaders to consider championing six high-impact areas at a special Climate Summit in 2019. These areas are investment in clean technology, maturing carbon pricing, enabling the energy transition, risk mitigation and building resilience, augmenting the contribution of sub-national actors and business and mobilizing climate finance.

Among the side events scheduled at COP 23, several will be organized under the Marrakech Partnership for Global Climate Action, to show how cities, regions, private sector companies and investors are trying to implement the Paris Agreement in the areas of energy, water, agriculture, oceans and coastal areas, human settlements, transportation, industry, and forests.

In this photo, from left to right: Jochen Flasbarth, German State Secretary; Patricia Espinosa, UNFCCC Executive Secretary; Inia Seruiratu, Fijian Minister for Agriculture, Rural Maritime Development National Disaster Management Meteorological Services, and Global Climate Action Champion participate in symbolic bike ride ahead of COP23. Photo: UNFCCC

Article source: http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=58031

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